pink slime and McDonalds

I’m Sponsoring Study On Pink Slime and Autism: $3000 Research Stipend

When I was nineteen-years-old, I went to my local hospital, the Long Beach Veterans Administration, and slid my resume with a cover letter under all the doors of the doctors in hopes of getting medical research experience as a volunteer. A doctor, Dr. Larry Parker, in the Endicronology department called me and put me on one of his projects that looked at the relationship between hydrocortisone shots and bone density. It was widely believed at the time that hydrocortisone weakened the bones. My  job was to go through all the medical records of veterans who had hydrocortisone administered to them, and find out if they had ever suffered from a broken bone.

The medical records were kept in the bowels of the Long Beach VA and I spent many hours that summer in the basement reading musty records. When I finished, the data — the veterans that the hospital treated being a large sample size — was given to a statistician and crunched. My doctor wrote up the results and many, many months later the paper was published. There was, in fact, no correlation. And I was the third author of my first (and only) medical research article.

In posting on McDonalds’ use of Pink Slime which includes Ammonium Hydroxide, I realized that there is very little, if any, research on the effects of Ammonium Hydroxide as a food additive. I speculated in my post that there might be a correlation between Pink Slime and cancer or autism and now I want to offer students the same opportunity that I had as an undergraduate to find out.

pink slime and McDonalds

To this end, I am sponsoring a study on the possible connection between Pink Slime and Autism. I am offering a $3000 stipend in case there are expenses incurred for research or travel. If you know someone who might be interested, this is the information I will need


1) Name

2) Age, year in high school or college if a student

3) University or College

4) Major

5) G.P.A.

6) Professor or Doctor you have found to oversee this project

7) A short essay on what you want to study in terms of the correlation between Pink Slime and Autism, why you want to do it, and how you plan to do it.

Please email me at pragmaticmomblog (at) gmail (dot) com. I plan to award this no later than June of 2014.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Jeanette Nyberg

    Great idea, Mia. Looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. It’s fascinating.
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…Halloween Sigg BottlesMy Profile

  2. Me, too! What a great idea!

  3. Very interesting hypothesis. Now I wish my son is already in college so he can apply. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the research.

  4. This is great! Have you had a chance to look into why exactly Canada opted out of using slime for their McD’s burgers? Did they have research that indicated it was bad for human health – or – did they just allow themselves to be grossed out at the thought of using it?

    • Hi Professor Blue,

      I found the answer on this link here:–pink-slime-stops-at-the-49th-parallel/

      It says, “But according to Health Canada, which regulates food additives, it is not allowed in this country. ‘Ammonia is not permitted in Canada to be used in ground beef or meats during their production,’ the agency said in a statement.

      The reason is apparently that no one has asked to use it. ‘Health Canada requires that all food additives undergo a pre-market safety evaluation,” the agency said. “Ammonium hydroxide added to meat … would be regulated in Canada as a food additive. Therefore, Health Canada would need to receive a submission requesting a specific use of ammonium hydroxide in meat products before the substance could be considered for approval.’

      Health Canada also says that any imported meat must adhere to Canadian rules and standards, meaning LFTB* cannot be brought into the country.

      So it’s not a matter of LFTB being banned in Canada, it’s just never been on the list of approved additives for meat. And we do allow ammonium hydroxide in the processing of cocoa products and gelatin.”

      * lean finely textured beef (LFTB)
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…I’m Sponsoring Study On Pink Slime and Autism: $3000 Research StipendMy Profile

  5. The article you linked to also stated this:

    “Last December, fast food chains McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell said they would discontinue using LFTB beef on their menus in the U.S.”

    Clearly not the case if you’re still battling McDonald’s.

    • Hi Professor Blue,
      No, you are right. The fast food chains have discontinued using LFTB beef. My issue is that I and my children ate the LFTB beef unknowingly and now I am wondering about any ill effects from it. I don’t trust the beef experts who claim that the studies show that it is safe. I also just found out about the LFTB less than a month ago (and my husband had no idea) so I wanted my readers to know that this happened so that they would know as information to process when deciding where to take their kids to eat in the future. We will never eat at McDonalds, Burger King or Taco Bell again. There are plenty of other better options that are also fast and economically priced.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…I’m Sponsoring Study On Pink Slime and Autism: $3000 Research StipendMy Profile

  6. Interesting study topic! Probably quite difficult to get definitive findings on, but always worth looking into.
    maryanne recently posted…How to Make a King CostumeMy Profile

  7. wow. I know nothing about medical research but I am completely floored and excited that you’d offer someone the chance to explore this topic! I hope you find a super smart and dedicated student who will look into this for all of us!
    JulieK recently posted…Introducing gDiapers new fashion prints!My Profile

  8. I\’m just curious… what would cause you to make this connection? It seems antidotal to try to connect ammonia, which is a natural occurring in all proteins to this. I hope you publish the findings regardless of what they are. Seems odd to even try and connect this to that. Maybe wishful thinking on the part of the mommy blogger community? The photo you publish as to what “pink slime” is has been widely discredited as a hoax, yet here it is in all its glory once again. I would love to know what that photo is and where it was taken. Find that out and I’ll pay for the study myself!

    • Hi Frank,
      I was researching the causes of cancer (genetic and environmental) and learned that every one of us has cancer cells in our bodies. It’s when our immune system gets overwhelmed that the cancer takes over. Why does the immune system fail? There are both genetic and environmental factors like toxin exposure.

      As I think about Autism and the increase of Autism Spectrum Disorders (, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Autism and cancer. Both have genetic and environmental factors.

      I undertand that Ammonium Hydroxide breaks down into a naturally occuring ammonium compounds that are waste products and removed from the body as urine. But I wonder at what point, introducing more toxins and at what levels causes the body to become overwhelmed by the increase and fail to remove it. (Similar to cancer when the body’s immune system breaks down).

      I don’t have data from McDonalds or other fast food restaurants when Pink Slime was introduced and in what quantities so I am curious if the increase in autism is somehow tied to the introduction of additional toxins that our bodies were never meant to handle. And what are the levels of ammonium compounds we need to subject our bodies to for side effects to happen due to the inability to process and remove it.

      Pink Slime is disgusting stuff. I truly would not feed it to my dog.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Retold Fable by Caldecott Illustrator as Nearly Wordless Picture Book My Profile

  9. Ann

    Very cool opportunity! You have so many good ideas.
    You are a fantastic mentor for students!
    Ann recently posted…PiBoIdMo ReflectionsMy Profile

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